ION Treasury recently announced the launch of its new Wallstreet Suite solution. TMI talks to Michael Kolman, Chief Product Officer, ION Treasury, about the thinking behind the complete overhaul of this classic TMS.
Wallstreet Suite has long been a TMS favoured by some of the world’s largest and most complex corporates, banks, and government agencies. With the announcement on 12 September that it has undergone a major architectural overhaul, solution owner ION Treasury has set its sights firmly on meeting the changing – and challenging – needs of current and future users.
The thinking behind the ‘new Wallstreet Suite’ is driven by the needs communicated to the vendor by its customers, highlighting their desire for easy system accessibility and more automation and exceptions management, with real-time visibility of financial activities across their organisations.
Wallstreet Suite’s development is part of a long-term investment in ION’s treasury solution portfolio that has seen ideas emerge that might otherwise remain dormant, says Kolman. “When you have that opportunity to fully reimagine a solution, you can think differently about how you would solve treasury challenges,” he comments.
The platform now assumes a modular or component-based, service-oriented architecture, purposefully removing the “monolithic” presence of previous iterations. This, states Kolman, is “not just a facelift”. Indeed, he explains: “it is a true re-architecting and re-engineering of processes to solve the modern problem of doing more with less, being efficient, and not just focusing on treasury needs but also on the digital transformation of the whole finance organisation”.
The bedrock of this shift in thinking is that all modules are now interconnected using APIs. As well as real-time data sharing across each component (which removes the pain of waiting for scheduled actions to execute), this approach gives users the option to implement and upgrade functionality as and when required, significantly reducing the time, effort, and cost to go live with, and maintain, the system.
From a practical standpoint, implementation optionality of the new version sits well in contrast to the previous method of implementing everything from the outset and switching on as required. Treasurers may still need to plan and budget for the widest scope of implementation, says Kolman, but incremental cutover of applications can help bring forward ROI.
The new componentised approach should also help users to more readily remain up to date with system iterations, with each element able to be updated independently. ION itself benefits from componentisation because it is able to reuse certain common elements drawn from across its entire suite of TMS solutions – a portfolio that today also includes IT2, Reval, ITS, Openlink, City Financials, and Treasura.
By doing so, the vendor aims to harness what it considers to be the best features for all users across the range (such as its ML technology and its bank account management tool). Furthermore, by reusing components across the range, a common look and feel is created while still enabling each brand within the portfolio to be discretely positioned for its designated target market.
On this note, Kolman explains that current brand differentials, “where each serves different levels of complexity”, will continue as part of ION’s long-term strategy “never to sunset products as long as customers continue to use them”. So while the new Wallstreet Suite remains targeted at the large-scale end of the TMS market, the common UX across ION’s portfolio is designed to enable users to grow with the vendor.
Reaching a view on what to deliver with the Suite has in part been achieved by close customer collaboration. The input of current users, who were able to table any existing needs and challenges based on their real-world experiences, was augmented by their views on how they could achieve greater visibility and control over a wider set of processes through additional ION applications.
One facet of the Wallstreet Suite that has been devised to connect separated payments and treasury operations is its payment hub, says Kolman. Treasury typically sets payments policy, and executes its own payments (to fund different bank accounts, for example). Yet the larger volume of operational payments tends to be executed in other, frequently disparate and geographically spread, systems. These transactions can be subject to different workflows and processes, and often treasury has no visibility over activities, not least making consistent service provision difficult.
“This is why we’ve designed for the convergence between treasury and operational payments,” explains Kolman. The hub is intended to give treasuries the flexibility to accommodate the global centralisation and control of local processes, workflows, and bank messaging, with an incorporated message-mapper to ensure consistency across the board. ION also uses that centralised structure to deliver key payments services to users, such as bank connectivity, sanction screening and fraud detection.
Another user-centric aspect incorporated into Wallstreet Suite is its “exception-based design”. This approach focuses users on required actions such as time-sensitive operations, processing errors, or policy breaches so they become more efficient. With the import of multiple bank statements, for example, if some are missing from that upload, rather than running a separate control report, the system automatically flags the missing files for action. “The interface focuses the user on exactly what they need to do, and when,” states Kolman.
In some scenarios, an automated response makes sense. Here, Kolman says ION has created a new rules engine that can be deployed across a diverse range of settings. It can, for example, automate netting or splitting of multiple settlements, or be used to facilitate execution on recommendations based on hedging policy rules set within the application.
There is no doubt that ION is intent on taking as many clients as possible with it on its new journey. However, the vendor’s ‘no sunsetting’ policy will see it continue to support older versions of Wallstreet Suite in parallel with the new version, for which Kolman states there is no mandatory cutover required for existing users.
“It will be a multi-year migration plan to get everyone upgraded to the new platform. So far feedback has been very positive, with a number of upgraded and new customers already live,” he concludes.